The International Observatory of Human Rights launched a new documentary ‘Ethiopia: A New Dawn for Press Freedom? ‘this month on its TV platform IOHRTV – The Human Rights TV Channel.
The documentary produced and directed by IOHR’s in house journalist and producer Margherita Cargasacchi, recounts decades of persecution of independent journalism in Ethiopia through the voice of journalists, professors and former political prisoners, but also the recent progress made under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who has been awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Among the main voices of the film, is ninety-year-old journalist Yacob Wolde-Mariam, blogger Befekadu Hailu, who was tortured in the Maekelawi detention center and journalist Woubshet Taye who was sentenced to 14 years by a court in Addis Ababa, his sentenced is believed to be as a result of his critical coverage of the government. Taye spent nearly 7 years in jail after being pardoned as a result of the reforms set by Abiy Ahmed ‘s new government.
For many years Ethiopia ranked among the worst countries in the Reporters Without Borders Global Freedom Index. This year, thanks to the democratic reforms issued by the new government, the country has gained 40 positions, ranking now in 110th place.
Since the inauguration of the new government, in April 2017, Abiy Ahmed has released journalists imprisoned by previous regimes, unlocked 264 sites and blogs once forbidden and allowed broadcasters previously considered ‘terrorists’, such as Oromia Media Network and ESAT, to operate in the country.
The documentary also investigates the problems and new challenges, including the reform of the anti-terrorism law so far used by the government to supress critical journalists.
Since June 2019, precisely because of this law that is still active, there have been other arrests of journalists in Ethiopia: now at least 6 reporters are in prison.
“This is an issue that deserves attention – explains producer Margherita Cargasacchi. – Next year there will be elections in Ethiopia and even now, the situation for journalists has changed to the worse compared to the progress made with Abiy Ahmed.
Last year about 95 journalists in the world lost their lives, according to the International Federation of Journalists and this year, at least 236 are in prison. We are seeing strong attacks on the press even in democratic systems, such as Italy and the United States “.
The documentary has received positive reviews and praise within the press and media communities and has been picked up the various media outlets globally, including Corriere della Sera, the first main daily newspaper in Italy and the most widely distributed.
Corriere della Sera
“Press freedom in Ethiopia under Nobel Peace Prize PM Abiy Ahmed”
The International Observatory of Human Rights is committed to raising awareness and advocating for the release of all unlawfully jailed journalists worldwide and pressuring government to punish all those who have committed crimes against reporters through it’s #DefendJournalists campaign.